Tokyo declares coronavirus red alert as situation 'rather severe'

Cheryl Sanders
July 16, 2020

Tokyo is on its highest coronavirus alert level after a spike in new cases, the city's governor warned Wednesday, as experts said the rising infections were a clear "red flag".

The fast spread of the virus in Tokyo could add to growing pressure on Japanese policymakers to protect the world's third-largest economy.

But opposition lawmakers, local-level leaders and social media users have asked the government to suspend that campaign as daily new cases rise.

Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said in a statement on Tuesday, his government could declare an emergency if infections grow further.

"Obviously we will consider the thoughts of many of our people, while monitoring the situation ahead", Nishimura, who leads the government's coronavirus policy, told parliament.

The city reported 165 new cases of infection on Wednesday.

She appealed to residents to avoid non-essential out-of-town trips, and to the government to "think carefully" if it's an appropriate timing to push Abe's unpopular tourism campaign.

Daily coronavirus cases exceeded 200 in four of the last six days, touching an all-time high of 243 cases last Friday as testing among workers in the metropolis's red-light districts turned up infections among young people in their 20s and 30s.

Health experts noted Tokyo hospitals were getting crowded as the number of patients doubled from the previous week.

Despite the virus resurgence, the situation in Japan remains considerably less serious than in many other comparable countries.

"I don't see why it can't be delayed a bit, or it could be limited to certain regions", said Ryuta Ibaragi, governor of Okayama in the west of the country, which has had just 29 infections out of 23,000 recorded across Japan.

The US state of Florida - one of the current epicenters in the nation's coronavirus crisis - on Tuesday posted a record number of deaths for a 24-hour period at 132.

Other reports by iNewsToday